Last updated: 9 November 2023

Next review: 9 November 2024

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual violence. CSE is when children are sexually exploited for money, goods ( for example, cigarettes, alcohol, mobiles, or trainers), power, or status.

Those exploiting young people have power because of their age, status, physical strength, and/or resources.

Some young people are trafficked into or around the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

CSE is child abuse

Young people often trust their abuser and don't understand that they're being abused. They may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what's happening.

It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults, including oral and anal rape. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact and can happen online.

What warning signs are there that a young person is being exploited?

The London Safeguarding Children’s Board has developed a handy way to help people recognise warning signs of CSE:

Sexual health and behaviour concerns
Absent from school or repeatedly running away
Familial abuse and/or problems at home
Emotional and physical condition
Gangs, older groups, and involvement in crime
Use of technology and sexual bullying
Alcohol and drug misuse
Receipt of unexplained money or goods
Distrust of authority figures

Help and support

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 for the Police